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Issuance Coincides with 15th Anniversary of Landmark Anti-Discrimination Law

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a question-and- answer document on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to persons with cancer in the workplace. The new publication is available on EEOC's web site at

Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez released the document today during an event sponsored by the National Council on Disability commemorating the 15th anniversary of the passage of the ADA. President George H.W. Bush signed the landmark legislation on July 26, 1990, banning discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government programs, and places of public accommodation.

Noting that approximately 40 percent of the more than one million Americans diagnosed each year with some form of cancer are working-age adults, and nearly 10 million Americans have a history of cancer, Chair Dominguez said: "Because of the significant advances in detection and treatment, cancer no longer is the 'death sentence' it was a century ago. Yet people recently diagnosed with cancer and those with a history of cancer still experience discrimination at work based on old stereotypes and unfounded fears. Simple accommodations, like leave or a flexible schedule to allow for treatment, make it possible for many people with cancer to continue to be valuable contributors in the workplace."

The new question-and-answer document, which is the fourth in a series of publications on the ADA's application to specific disabilities, addresses such topics as:

  • When cancer is a disability under the ADA;
  • When an employer may ask an applicant or employee questions about cancer and how it should treat
  • voluntary disclosures; and,
  • What types of reasonable accommodations employees with cancer may need.

The document helps to advance the goals of the New Freedom Initiative President George W. Bush's comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The New Freedom Initiative seeks to promote greater access to technology, education, employment opportunities, and community life for people with disabilities. An important part of the New Freedom Initiative strategy for increasing employment opportunities involves providing employers with technical assistance on the ADA. Information about other EEOC activities under the Initiative also is available on the agency's web site at

In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government, EEOC enforces laws prohibiting race, sex, color, national origin, religion, and age discrimination in employment.